Monday, May 30, 2011































































How to resist torture in America: "Do unto others..."


Today me and my daughter Ashley went up to Hilltop Mall because we wanted to get photos of my granddaughter Mena taken so we could all have wallet-sized pictures of Mena looking insanely cute. And as we were waiting for our turn at the photo shop, I started asking Ashley questions about torture.

"Torture? Huh? What does torture have to do with wallet-sized cuteness?" Nothing. Get over it. As a blogger's daughter, your job is to supply input -- not to reason why. Okay then.

"Just suppose for a minute that all the Arabs in all the Arab countries throughout the Middle East who have been tortured over the past many decades by various American forces and spy agencies and corporatists -- that they all suddenly got together with all the various Asians in all the many Asian countries west of the Indus and Urals where Americans have tortured quite a lot of people, and that all the Latinos from Mexico and all the many Central and South American countries where Americans have tortured untold numbers of people thanks to excellent torture techniques taught at the infamous School of the Americas, and that all the blood-covered Africans from all the economically-colonized African countries where American armies, intelligence agencies and corporations have tortured people over the past many decades since Patrice Lumumba and all the...."

"Okay. Okay. I get the idea."

"And that all of these innumerable abused victims of American torture all banded together, consolidated all their armies and natural resources and anger and stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and then all of them came after us all at one time? All of them? And overran the entire USA from Boston to San Diego?"

"It might happen," replied Ashley, "but it probably won't."

"Yeah, but just supposing that it did -- then my question is this: If we absolutely positively for certain knew that all of these Others were going to do to us what we had already done to them -- then how could we possibly prepare ourselves for such an event? How could we teach ourselves to endure or resist and/or even to survive such hard-line torture -- like what Americans handed out at places like Guantanamo, Baghram and Abu Ghraib?"

I mean, of course, besides having to learn to endure the torture of having to spend a day at the mall.

"Haven't got a clue," Ashley answered. Me neither. How can you even begin to toughen up and prepare for something like that? Perhaps we could do what all too many Americans are already doing now -- and become homeless? It takes plenty of guts to survive that. In order to be homeless, you really do gotta man up.

Or you could play continuous 24-hour loops of recordings of colicky screaming babies? Trust me, that would toughen anyone up. Or you could almost drown yourself in the bathtub each night. Or go without toilet paper? Or audition for Survivor?

There really isn't any good way to prepare oneself for being tortured -- except for this one: Stop torturing other people and then hope to God that they will then stop wanting to torture you in return. "What goes around comes around." Didn't Jesus say that?

PS: Considering that we were shopping at Hilltop Mall on a Saturday afternoon right after payday -- considered by many to be the absolute primo time-slot for shopping -- this mall was strangely deserted. On any given Saturday afternoon ten years ago, this place would have been mobbed!

PPS: Well, guess what? America already HAS been "invaded". And here's a video from MSNBC commentator Cenk Uygur to prove it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8GMNwDJzgo&feature=share.

In this video, we are shown an image of almost all our congressional representatives giving the prime minister of Israel many standing ovations, even though everything that Bibi had just said goes totally against our own national interests.

In this video, Netanyahu is stating that the West Bank and Gaza belong to him because his ancestors occupied it 2,500 years ago. Okay. But under that logic, then Congress needs to supply the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota with billions -- or perhaps even trillions -- of dollars so that they can take back the West Bank of the Potomac! Or else we should start supplying Italians with fighter jets and tanks so they can take back Jerusalem -- which used to be part of the old Roman Empire.

America has already been invaded -- and conquered! -- by Israel's corporatist lobbyists. In this video, you can watch Congress give our occupiers many standing ovations. Do you think that Congress would give the same kind of standing ovations to, say, American union leaders? Or Americans who want single-payer healthcare? Or American college students who want better schools? Or mayors of American cities pleading for better infrastructure? No way!

You think that Israel's corporatist lobbyists don't already "occupy" America? In his speech to an Israeli corporatist lobbying association recently, President Obama pretty much says it all when he addresses AIPAC president Lee Rosenberg by his nickname.
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/05/22/transcript-of-obamas-remarks-to-aipac/

"Rosy, thank you for your many years of friendship," says Obama. "Back in Chicago, when I was just getting started in national politics, I reached out to a lot of people for advice and counsel, and Rosy was one of the very first. When I made my first visit to Israel, after entering the Senate, Rosy, you were at my side every step of that profound journey through the Holy Land. So I want to thank you for your enduring friendship, your leadership, and for your warm introduction today."

Even Obama is beholden to Israel's corporatist lobby (and clearly not to the voters who elected him). I rest my case.

PPPS: America has also been "invaded" by its own political and military leaders -- who clearly represent themselves instead of us.

Here's an article by journalist Anwaar Hussain, describing how the people of Pakistan have been used, misinformed and manipulated by their political and military leaders -- and how, as a result, the future of Pakistan has been pretty much doomed http://truthspring.info/2011/05/24/begins-the-fire-hunt/. But guess what? The same sorry conditions now engulfing these poor unwary Pakistanis are also now engulfing most Americans too. Too bad for us, suckers. The rich get richer and we get NOTHING.

And then there's America's third major "invasion" -- by the Federal Reserve and the banksters and Wall Street, institutions that have absolutely no allegiance to America at all but rather to international cartels that play out grim blood-money oligarch games that also suck America dry. And where is the anger here either? Like Pakistan, have we too become just another minor nation of victims who relish the role of being masochists? Apparently so.

More and more, I am beginning to think that I'm completely wasting my time here even trying to write about possible viable solutions to all of America's woes -- or about various sensible ways to keep MY country from being swallowed up by its economic occupiers.

America is going to Hell in a hand-basket right now, and the only solutions to these troubles that our so-called leaders keep feeding us are the same old tired solutions that got us into this terrible mess in the first place -- more unnecessary wars, more influence by bankers, more media lies, more anti-depressants (http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/david-swanson/36365/the-small-group-of-thoughtful-committed-citizens-has-been-drugged), more corrupt politicians -- and more Americans who absolutely eat up all these faux solutions like they were pieces of Marie Antoinette's cake.

Doesn't anybody in America have any common sense left at all right now --
except for perhaps a handful of progressive bloggers and some little old ladies like me? Or have any sense at all for that matter?

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Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238806637&sr=1-2

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uqSuzOjM4vU/TafAFKcYz0I/AAAAAAAAFJc/Duv2LYJyUTs/s1600/IMG_0045.JPGhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dlHRO-CPqf0/Tae6tLspmQI/AAAAAAAAFI0/iUKwYDK1f3A/s1600/IMG_0041.JPG

"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds." You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

Tuesday, May 24, 2011





















































No worries, Mom: New vaccines to solve the autism issue?


Yesterday was an interesting day. I had lunch with a scientist friend of mine. "What project are you working on now?" I asked her over a bowlful of chicken curry and a cup of hot chai at Vik's Chaat Cafe in West Berkeley.

"I'm currently doing DNA research for a new start-up bio-tech company," she replied. "Right now we're working on perfecting a new way to make vaccines -- and this new technique clearly has definite advantages over the older methods because it works in a whole different way. Instead of injecting a live bug into people like they've been doing since back in the days of Louis Pasteur, we can now isolate small sections of some killer bug's DNA and make a vaccine out of that. Jane, this is so exciting! We're almost there! Our clinical trials will be starting in only six months!"

"But what's so exciting about that?" sez me. "It just means that there will be even more types of vaccines to inflict on the world's poor vulnerable babies and cause them to get autism -- and probably Alzheimer's too." Hey, I'm Old Skool when it comes to inflicting dozens of needless vaccines on our poor sweet guinea-pig children.

"But Jane," my friend corrected me, "it's not the vaccines that do the damage. It's the chemicals that these live bugs have to be stored in so that the vaccines will be viable for long periods of time. Pasteur never had that problem. If he wanted to vaccinate someone, he just went out and grabbed a local milkmaid with cow pox. But things are different these days."

"You mean that vaccines really are actually helpful?"

"Absolutely. They have saved millions -- perhaps even billions -- of lives. You might even owe your own life to one. They are one of the main cornerstones to the preservation of all human life." Yeah right. "However, if you can discover a way to deliver vaccines to people without having to deliver the potentially harmful storage chemicals as well, then you're home free. And we have just now solved that problem!" Heck, even I was starting to get excited about this.

"If you can take just a small fraction of a killer bug's DNA and inject it, human bodies will then, according to our research, develop immunities and antibodies just the same as if it had been injected with the live bug. AND. Our new DNA vaccines will be able to be stored and transported without having to use any of the dangerous chemicals that we are now forced to rely on."

"That's huge."

"Better believe it."

PS: Unfortunately, all this wonderful research is gonna come to fruition too late for me. As a result of receiving high doses of chemical-laced vaccines within a very short period of time, I think that I already have autism. And probably Alzheimer's as well. And also Gilliam-Barre syndrome and definitely peripheral neuropathy too. Boy do I HATE vaccines.

According to an article in http://news-medical.net, "There are currently over 5,000 court cases pending that claim autism as a result of vaccine injury."

In 2007, I joined the Peace Corps and was happily sent off to South Africa where, in the course of a few weeks, I was given a series of vaccinations for almost every single disease known to man -- and immediately had huge reactions. And my cognitive thinking, speech, physical coordination, breathing abilities, mental orientation and muscle strength immediately started going downhill. I even got so sick that the Peace Corps had to send me home.

If you ever want proof that the miserable rotten chemicals in modern vaccines cause problems in humans, I'm living proof. And, as an adult, I can clearly articulate what happened to me -- the pain I went through, how I am still suffering side effects today and how I've noticeably changed. But imagine if you were just a bay and had reactions like mine? How could you tell your doctor to back off? You couldn't.

PPS: After our lunch at Vik's, my friend and I went off to a lecture on infant linguistics and language learning processes in young children. Here are three of the lecturer's main "take-away" points:

First: Whether you use an "infant-directed register" (aka baby-talk) or not, it really doesn't matter. What matters most in encouraging a baby's ability to learn how to talk is that you try to communicate in a manner that meaningfully connects to a baby's environment through cues -- such as pointing, holding items up, etc. But the major factor here is your ability to communicate respect to the infant or young child.

Second: Babies have trouble making neumonic distinctions if there are also neumonic distractions such as a constant noisy environment. Background noise -- even music -- inhibits language development.

Third: Children do not get confused by exposure to a second language -- in fact it has been found that children exposed to more than one language have higher self-esteem. However, if a parent is emotionally attached to teaching his or her child a heritage language, children may pick up on this emotional tension and may refuse to use the heritage language as a result, having associated it with emotional issues rather than with those of simply learning new sounds. But not to fear. Just eliminate the emotional baggage and merely keep using the language itself. The kids will still learn it -- whether they speak it back to us or not.

PPPS: We can only play the cards that are dealt to us. I would prefer to have a great mind like Einstein or a heart as big as St Francis of Assisi's or a young strong body like the Bengal popcorn guys have (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q5hunYOzRA). But I don't. So I make do with what I have and do the best I can within my limitations.

Which is why people like George W. Bush and Barak Obama totally piss me off -- they have the brains, the looks, the money and the opportunities to freakin' save the whole freakin' WORLD! And what do they do instead? They kill people. They kill almost as many people as some of those terrible live killer bugs that we struggle so hard to get people vaccinated against. That's just shameful.

PPPPS: I just found out that there is going to be a whole bio-conference on the subject of new types of vaccines: DNA Vaccines 2011. And it's gonna be in San Diego this July!

According to the DNA vaccine conference's website blurb (http://www.bioconferences.com/CONFERENCES/DNA/index.aspx), "The 2011 theme, Building on Clinical Progress and Exploring New Targets, led by Program Chair David B. Weiner, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, combines a provocative cutting edge scientific program and new innovative research findings not covered at any other meeting. You'll meet international presenters, have access to the exhibit and poster areas, and attend networking food and cocktail receptions all at Loews Coronado Bay in San Diego."

They're gonna have food and cocktail receptions? I wanna go!

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Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238806637&sr=1-2

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uqSuzOjM4vU/TafAFKcYz0I/AAAAAAAAFJc/Duv2LYJyUTs/s1600/IMG_0045.JPGhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dlHRO-CPqf0/Tae6tLspmQI/AAAAAAAAFI0/iUKwYDK1f3A/s1600/IMG_0041.JPG

"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds." You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

Tuesday, May 17, 2011






































































Protesting the Federal Reserve: Yet another good reason to buy gold (and silver)


The inspirational message from my Franklin Planner today was a quote from Frank Garbutt. "The man who questions opinion is wise; the man who quarrels with fact is a fool." Right on!

And today I also went off to a local college commencement exercise which was very deeply moving and inspiring. One of the main speakers brought tears to my eyes as she talked about some of the things that her great-grandmother, an ex-slave, had taught her. "My great-grandmother was a midwife in her community and every few months when the circuit-riding doctor was due for a visit, she would hang a white towel in front of the homes where sick people were in need of the doctor's attention. And I also have always tried to do this -- to attempt to point out where help is needed."

Well, obviously somebody needs to hang a white towel in front of the capitol building in Washington DC as well -- because, right now, America needs all the help it can get!

A friend of mine who serves in Afghanistan recently came home on leave and he told me about the difference between corruption over in Afghanistan versus corruption here in America. "In Afghanistan everyone makes payments under the table -- but here in America, if anyone wants do do something corrupt, they just pass a law to make it legal." Oh yeah.

And I bet that you know what he's talking about too -- so-called "campaign contributions" from mega-corporations that coincidentally result in IRS loopholes and ERA pollution waivers in their favor; "legal" gifts from lobbyists to our congressional representatives; all-too-common stories about developers who have been granted eminent domain after greasing the skids just a bit, zoning laws that favor the upper classes; expensive parking tickets for not bribing your meter maid in a timely-enough fashion; massive bank bailouts; war-profiteer contracts for out-dated weapons we don't need; gross subsidies to nuclear power plant owners because no one else in their right mind would insure these walking death-traps; prisons and schools run for profit at the expense of the community that pays for them; the Federal Reserve's love affair with Big Banks at the expense of us little guys; our brave military sold down the river and forced to become corporatists' hired guns -- the list is endless. Yes, baksheesh is alive and well here in America. Ours is possibly the most corrupt country in the world.

Anyway, while I was driving to the commencement ceremony today, I passed a sign in
somebody's window that read, "Get rid of the Federal Reserve. Bring back the Greenback." Believe it or not, that's easy to do.

The old greenbacks were the paper dollars that had their value backed up by either gold bullion or silver certificates -- not like this post-modern play-money crap that the Fed keeps telling us is real. But we don't have to wait around for no stinking Fed to bring back the greenback.
We can bring it back ourselves. All we gotta do is go out and buy our own gold and silver.

The Fed might not be backing up our dollars. But we can do it ourselves.

Not only that, but silver is now selling at almost $36 an ounce. Remember back when GOLD was just $36 an ounce? Gold is now $1,500 an ounce. So. Buy it. Use it. Love it! Screw the Fed.

PS: The commencement ceremony today was totally lovely. There were hundreds of hopeful graduates, their faces all lit up with pride and hope. And it broke my heart to even think about what their future will be like -- with approximately a hundred thousand dollars worth of student loan payments hanging over each of their heads and no jobs in sight.

Maybe the graduation present that these wonderful and hopeful students need most is to have Washington give them a bailout on their loans. America's students obviously need a bailout far more than Big Banks and Big Oil. Plus America definitely needs lots of smart and hopeful young college graduates -- far more than we need another handful of greedy rich bankers and a few more slick oil-baron billionaires. That's a fact!

But then, like it said in my Franklin Planner today, "The man who quarrels with fact is a fool." And America certainly has more people in our government, our media and our financial institutions quarreling with fact than ever before.

PPS: Every day I try to meditate for nine minutes. For the first three of those minutes I cogitate on the Past -- everything from early childhood triumphs and disasters to George W, Bush and Attila the Hun. Then for the next three minutes, I think about the Present -- which is usually rather boring.

And for the last three minutes I try to imagine the Future. At first I just dreamed up easy stuff -- like trying to win the lottery or that my car would actually make it to Camp Tuolumne over Memorial Day. But now I'm getting really good at imagining a bunch of even better versions of the Future: World peace, happy children, honest government, free university education and single-payer healthcare, an end to pollution, socialism for everyone and not just the rich, and everyone following the Golden Rule.

And I am also starting to wonder why all these things must be simply a figment of my imagination. Why can't our future actually look like this? And, further, why aren't we all raucously demanding a future like this instead of demanding the hellish nightmares currently being peddled to us by America's oligarchs, Wall Street and Fox News?

Years ago I wrote a yet-unpublished book entitled, "Pictures of a Future World," wherein, after centuries of self-abuse, the human race finally wises up and behaves itself. That's the kind of Future I want!


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Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238806637&sr=1-2

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uqSuzOjM4vU/TafAFKcYz0I/AAAAAAAAFJc/Duv2LYJyUTs/s1600/IMG_0045.JPGhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dlHRO-CPqf0/Tae6tLspmQI/AAAAAAAAFI0/iUKwYDK1f3A/s1600/IMG_0041.JPG

"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds." You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

Monday, May 16, 2011



















Family photos: Mother's day at Brennan's


Here's my great new recipe for surviving Mother's Day --
take your family to Brennan's and keep feeding them corned beef sandwiches and Irish coffees. Works every time.

Remember Brennan's Irish Pub and Hofbrau? In West Berkeley, down by the train station? We all used to go there back in the 1970s. We'd spend our mornings at the Med and our evenings at Brennan's, down by the railroad tracks in West Berkeley. We were so young and cool back then. And now we bring our grandchildren to Brennan's for Mothers Day.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

And my sweet hippie baby who grew up experiencing a whole rainbow of wonders that was Berkeley back in the day? She rebelled and became a Yuppie. How heart-breaking is that!

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Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238806637&sr=1-2

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uqSuzOjM4vU/TafAFKcYz0I/AAAAAAAAFJc/Duv2LYJyUTs/s1600/IMG_0045.JPGhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dlHRO-CPqf0/Tae6tLspmQI/AAAAAAAAFI0/iUKwYDK1f3A/s1600/IMG_0041.JPG

"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds." You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

Tuesday, May 10, 2011














































































Life & Death: Corporate personhood & old folks homes in South Berkeley


One thing that I've been noticing recently is that there are a large number of "assisted living facilities" operating in South Berkeley right now. Fascinated by the concept of why so many of them have located in this particular section of my home town, I decided to investigate.

"How come there are so many rest homes located here?" was the question that I had planned to ask as I began my grand tour of the old folks homes of South Berkeley. There must be at least seven or eight of them right within blocks of where I live -- not to mention two rather large HUD-sponsored senior-citizens housing complexes also located nearby.

I got my answer at the very first assisted-living facility that I went to. "About sixty or eighty years ago when most of these places were built," said a nurse at the front desk of a rest home over on Ashby Avenue, "land in South Berkeley was relatively inexpensive -- and so people started building facilities in this area. But even more important than that is the fact that all these facilities are very close to one of the major hospitals in the region -- Alta Bates." Duh! I shoulda known that! Two out of four of my children were born at Alta Bates. I used to take my kids to its ER when they occasionally broke bones while roughhousing with the rest of our housing project's 40-odd mini-thugs. Of course.

"Actually, the larger facilities that you see around here are only the tip of the iceberg. There might be upwards of fifty more of them located in South Berkeley -- small units, family-run, holding only a few elders at a time."

I also talked with some of the residents at the rest homes I visited. Most of them liked the one they were staying in, said the staff was nice and that the food was good. But one older woman -- who declined to tell me her age but looked to be almost a hundred years old -- was sitting in her wheelchair out in front of one facility, seriously contemplating making her getaway!

"I hate it here!" she cried. "The food is lousy!" Apparently as one gets older and more frail, and one can't do all that other stuff one used to do easily, then eating and food become more and more important. Although food has ALWAYS been important to me. And when I was embedded in Iraq, food was the number-one hot topic among the Marines. I loved Iraq! Everyone there loved to talk about food and the Dining Facilities there were absolute works of art! My kind of people. But I digress. Plus everyone else I talked with at this elderly lady's facility loved the food so maybe she was just having a bad-hair day.

But as I toured old folks home after old folks home here in South Berkeley and saw dozens of elderly people in the last stages of their lives as they waited around for the Big One, there was something odd that I noticed -- something that was missing. I hadn't seen any elderly corporations sitting around in the hallways and reception rooms of these places, also waiting to die.

I saw no General Electric, no Monsanto and certainly no Koch Brothers Industries or Citizens United -- waiting patiently for their inevitable ends to come. Why is that? If corporations are legal personhoods, why do THEY get to escape from the Grim Reaper and live forever while the rest of us "persons" do not?

PS: The developers who appear to dominate the Berkeley City Council these days are always talking about trying to turn West Berkeley's industrial area into another Silicon Valley. Why don't they alternatively follow South Berkeley's example and turn it into another "Assisted Living Valley" instead.

Not only that, but we could build a whole bunch of high-quality medical centers here for the new rest homes to be satellites off of. I mean seriously -- what doctor wouldn't just LOVE to live here in Berkeley? Plus we already got all those bio-medical research companies here. And how about a west-coast branch of the Mayo Clinic? Plus UC Berkeley could open a hot new medical school here -- there's now a crying need for trained doctors and even Cuba is having trouble keeping up with the demand. Plus perhaps all those huge blood-sucking healthcare insurance companies could find a home here as well? Nah. West Berkeley is too far away from K Street.

BTW, I just aced playing a role as "Main Zombie" in a recent student film shot at a local digital arts school. And I bet you anything that when America's major healthcare insurance companies see me all dressed up in my zombie costume, they will surely want to hire me -- since they already have a strong passion for creating armies of uninsured healthcare Undead.

PPS: I just finished reading "The Portable Dorothy Parker" and it seems that Parker, who had made innumerable attempts at suicide during her lifetime including drinking a whole bottle of shoe polish, had finally come to the conclusion that it was actually a good thing that life was so painful for her.

"If it wasn't for life's pain and unhappiness -- then how would we know that we're alive?" When you stop feeling the slings and arrows that life throws at you, then that means you are dead. So be happy for any misery that comes your way. Why? Because it reminds you that you are still alive -- and not the alternative.

PPPS: But on the other hand, never fear death either. "Tis a far, far better place I go to...." Death, like birth, is a whole new adventure, one that is to be looked forward to and cherished as one of the great road-markers of life.

And perhaps corporate personhoods should also give death a try -- in order to prove that they too are human and not just zombies feeding off the blood and guts of we the living.

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